Investcorp pulls in Autodistribution

Investcorp has agreed to take France-based parts distributor Autodistribution off the hands of Goldman Sachs, which gained control of the company after it went into receivership.

Bahrain-based Investcorp agreed to take over the troubled French parts distributor Autodistribution. No terms have been disclosed, although published reports from November said the seller, Goldman Sachs, was looking for between €600 million and €800 million through the sale. A source familiar with the transaction put the price at the floor of that range.

Autodistribution sells spare auto, truck and industrial parts through a network of wholesalers and distribution outlets. The company also distributes parts directly to affiliated garages and body repair shops.

This sale is not Autodistribution’s first bout with private equity. The company was acquired by Butler Capital Partners, CDC Equity Capital and Axa Investment Managers for €533 million in 1999. One year later it pursued a consolidation play, buying its competitor Finelist.

It was the add-on deal that brought down Autodistribution, as accounting irregularities were uncovered at Finelist and ultimately forced the company into receivership. Goldman Sachs and other mezzanine debt holders ended up with a majority stake in Autodistribution, while ABN Amro Capital scooped up certain assets of Finelist.

According to the Financial News, Goldman hired Lazard to unload the company this past November.

The investment by Investcorp will give Autodistribution the financial backing to restart its consolidation plans. The company’s CEO Olivier Van Ruymbeke said in a statement that the firm will help Autodistribution “both consolidate further the French market, and to initiate European consolidation”. He also gave Goldman a nod, crediting the firm with playing a “critical” role in the company’s turnaround.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher served as legal counsel to Investcorp on the purchase, which is expected to close in February.